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Monday, May 26, 2014

'Hit the Deck' BD: Glorious CinemaScope Musical Extravaganza About Greatest Generation Sailors

Hit the Deck (1955) (BD)
Warner Archive recently releasing a Blu-ray version of the 1955 musical "Hit the Deck" is music to the ears (and eyes) of anyone who needs nearly two hours of pure escapist fun. This makes having a song titled "Hallelujah" the center of the film especially apt.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene featuring the aforementioned tune provides a good sense of the fun of "Deck."

"Deck" awesomely breaths fresh life into the theme of a group of sailors singing and dancing their way through a romantic adventure and other excitement while on shore leave. The intrepid group this time includes the stoic Bill, the older brother type Rico, and sweet naive Danny.

Danny, who Russ Tamblyn of "West Side Story" expertly portrays, and Rico evoke great thoughts of clerks Barnaby and Cornelius from "Hello Dolly." This vibe begins with the opening scenes that have these sailors assigned highly unpleasant grunt work, present a wonderful song-and-dance number in a Navy kitchen, and have their efforts go up in flames.

The real action begins when the trio arrives in San Francisco for a weekend of fun.

Bill, who Tony Martin plays, goes to see showgirl Ginger. Ginger, who "On the Town" star Ann Miller plays, is less-than-pleased to see her fiance of six years because he still has not put a ring on it in all that time.

Rico, who '50s singing star Vic Damone plays, surprises his stereotypical Italian mother. His surprises come in the forms of learning that she is dating a florist and that said entrepreneur does not know that his girl has a grown son.

Danny also goes to visit his family, which consists of aspiring actress sister Susan and rear admiral (snickering is acceptable) dad. Jane Powell of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and Walter Pidgeon of numerous classics respectively play the Smith relatives.

Danny going to a theater where an actor who is both dating Susan and promising to advance her career leads to both a very cute scene and a meeting with Carol Pace. The uber-awesome Debbie Reynolds plays Carol.

A vigorous confrontation between our sailor boys and the aforementioned thespian leads to both romance and a spirited attempt to avoid the shore patrol. These well-choreographed scenes contribute great musical-theater fun to the film.

Particular highlights include a scene between Smith Sr. and much lower-ranked shore patrol sailors and a quasi-surreal segment in a fun house.

Ending the film with a rousing reprise of "Hallelujah" both leaves the audience feeling good at the end and provokes thoughts of rudely leaving the theater during it avoid an interminable wait for a cab out front.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Deck" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.